FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| John Sturges |||
John Sturges

Helming the “Magnificent Seven” should be reason enough, demonstrating that Sturges had the happy talent of taking what was considered strictly “male” oriented stories and making them sexy enough and humorous enough to appeal to female movie-goer as well.

Sturges takes this star-studded gunslinger film based on the Japanese favorite "The Seven Samurai", and makes it a bone fide all-American classic featuring Yul Brynner. At the request of Mexican peasants, Brynner recruits a band of fellow mercenaries, half of whom Sturges introduces as the next generation of action film super-stars including Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Steve McQueen. Widescreen!

Sturges is responsible for what is renowned as one of the greatest war films ever made, featuring Steve McQueen and his unforgettably daring motorcycle jumps in the face of the enemy. Allied prisoners escape from a German POW camp in this superior effort, noted for a brilliant international cast and Elmer Bernstein's triumphant score. Widescreen!

This day in the life of a stranger in an isolated town has since been done to death, and this is why. In the hands of a lesser director the talents of this exceedingly manly cast (Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan) would otherwise overwhelm this compelling drama with a prejudice theme, but Sturges is able to maintain a firm grasp of the reigns, keeping his actors this side of mellow drama. Widescreen!

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

Advertisement

Eastwood's "Torino" might be dirty, but it ain't Harry

By EdwardHavens

March 20th, 2008

It's almost like a webisode of the new E! series "Pop Fiction." Give out just a tantalizing bit of information and just see where everyone takes it. A Dirty Harry movie? A western? Nothing's come close yet, according to our source.

Eastwood's

Let's start logically, and not just because what little information we've been able to dig up would barely fill up a thimble...

1) A new Dirty Harry movie? Not likely. The hot rumor is that a killer is riding around in a Gran Torino, and the now-retired Harry Callahan is on a mission to track down the culprit, as one of the victims was Callahan's cop grandson. What do we know about Dirty Harry Callahan? We know that Harry was once married, but she was killed by a drunk driver, and never once in the five films in the series was there ever a mention of a child. So, all of a sudden, Harry not only has a child he's never once mentioned before, but this child is old enough to a child of their own, who is himself old enough to have become a police officer? Sorry, don't buy it. Plus, if this was a Dirty Harry movie, you don't release it in December anymore. You hold it until the summer months, when action films have a better play-off. December is now reserved for more family-friendly fare, straight dramas or awards bait films. More on that in a minute.

2) What is a Gran Torino? In Italian, "Gran Torino" means "The Grand Turin," the city in Northern Italy which is considered the Detroit of Italy. Turin is also the home of the Mole Antonelliana, which now houses the Italian National Museum of Film and was greatly featured in Davide Ferrario's beautiful 2004 homage to cinema, After Midnight. But in car culture, the Gran Torino is the muscle car built by Ford Motor between 1972 and 1976, best known as the car by officer David Starsky in the 1970s ABC series "Starsky and Hutch" as well as its 2004 movie adaptation. Hell, I can't think of any way to spin this into it being a Western.

So if it's not a Dirty Harry movie, and it's not a western, just what the heck is "Gran Torino" anyway?

Our source tells us this will be a simple, quiet and compelling drama about Walt (Eastwood), a rural bigot who finds his outlook on life changed after a family of Hmong immigrants move in to the home next to his own, striking up a friendship with the family's teenaged son Tao over the older man's now-classic car.

Now, doesn't that sound more like something a studio would hinge its awards hopes on?

I could continue to prattle on about this and that, but that's really all we've been able to get right now. If there is any good to come out of the wild speculation about this being the next Dirty Harry movie, it shows there is still a major interest in any new Eastwood film. And seriously, if the studio and production companies are going to be so damn careful to try and keep the project as close to the vest as possible, is someone who is at best a property manager really going to blab major plot points to someone selling a car that isn't even the car they're looking for? No. I've worked in production, and if the production is specifically looking for a 1972 Gran Torino, they're not going to waste their time looking at cars that aren't a 1972 Gran Torino. The 72's had a more rounded body, compared to the straighter lines on the 74's. Car enthusiasts are going to know the difference, and if the script is specific about the year of the car, it probably has some significance to the storyline.

How the release of "Gran Torino" will affect the currently-set November release of Eastwood's courthouse drama "Changeling" for Universal (one of their expected high rollers for 2008 awards glory) is uncertain. All that can be certain for now is the race for 2008's Best Picture just got itself a new 800 pound gorilla.